UTEP Soccer/Photo: Michael P. Reese
The UTEP soccer team will kick off its 2016 season at home in the FirstLight Federal Credit Union Battle of I-10 vs. NM State at 7 p.m.Friday.
The contest, which is the first UTEP athletic department event for the 2016-17 year, will feature a pre-game UTEP Soccer Alumni Association tailgate starting at 5:30 p.m. with free food from Rudy’s Country Store and Bar-B-Q while supplies last.
“UTEP Soccer is very excited for Friday night and our rivalry game with NM State,” head coach Kevin Cross said. “We have worked very hard for this season and have lots to prove. We have a lot of respect for New Mexico State and its coach, Freddy Delgado. NM State will fight for everything and give us a very tough match as rivalry games always do”
“UTEP Soccer is very thankful for the UTEP Alumni Association and Jackie Reed sponsoring the Alumni Association Tailgate before the game. We also really appreciate the great barbecue courtesy of Rudy’s BBQ and managers, Charlie Juarez and Victor Barajas.”
Scouting NM State
NM State returns nine of 11 starters from last year’s squad (5-15-0, 4-6-0 WAC) while also adding 11 newcomers to the mix. The Aggies tuned up for the season by destroying Cochise College, 9-0, in an exhibition match at home on Aug. 15. Three of the top four point scorers from 2015 are back in the fold for NM State. They are in the form of Aileen Galicia (12 points), Holly Abdelkader (11 points) and Devin Hart (10 points).
Start It Up
The Orange and Blue are 12-2-1 in season openers under Cross and 15-4-1 all time since the program’s inception in 1996. The game is the first of 10 at home for the Miners in 2016. UTEP will be looking to build on its stellar record of 112-26-10 at University Field since 2002.
UTEP is 5-0-0 against NM State, including a 3-1 road victory last season. The Miners have also previously posted home wins in the series in 2009 (1-0, OT, 8/21), 2011 (2-0, 8/19) and 2014 (5-0, 8/27). .
The Basic Facts
UTEP is in its 21st season as a program, boasting an all-time record of 226-149-28. The Miners are under the direction of 16th-year head coach Kevin Cross, who sports a mark of 184-101-21 in that timeframe. He is assisted by two former Miners (Heather Clark and Jessie Pettit).
Plenty Of Talent Back
UTEP returns 12 letter winners (Keighton Allen-GK, Alexa Bain-D, Bri Barreiro-MF, Kennadie Chaudhary-MF, Yesenia Contreras-F, Aleah Davis-MF/D, Nicole Lindsay-MF, Jeanna Mullen-F/MF, Alyssa Palacios-GK, Payton Ross-D, Carleigh Simmons-D, and Bri Thomas-F), including nine starters (Bain, Barreiro, Chaudhary, Davis, Lindsay, Palacios, Ross, Simmons and Thomas) from last year’s squad which forged an overall record of 11-7-2.
UTEP has strong leaders in place with a seven-member senior class (Allen-GK, Bain-D, Barreiro-MF, Davis-MF/D, Lindsay-MF, Morgan Rasmason-GK and Thomas-F). Bain, Barreiro, Davis, Linsday and Thomas all started last year.
The Miners feature 13 newcomers on the 2016 roster, who provided a strong push for the veterans during the two-week training camp. The class is comprised 10 true freshmen (Emily Blaettner-MF, Dynastee Cain-F, Danielle Carreon-F, Lauren Crenshaw-D, Priscilla Garcia-F, Kori Lewis-D, Kobi McNutt-F, Cayla Payne-D, Natalie Valentine-MF and Aylin Villalobos-MF/F), two junior-college transfers (Devyn Hunley-MF, Sheridan Smith-F) and a former Miner softball player (Morgan Rasmason-GK). The 10 true freshmen are the second-most during the Cross era; the 2013 unit had 12 such players.
UTEP will continue its season-opening weekend while also kicking off a stretch with three straight road games by playing at Abilene Christian at 12 p.m. MTSunday.